Monday, March 31, 2008

Corporate Radio

One thing I’ve noticed lately is how corporate radio pollutes the work place and public spaces. The excessive amount of commercials, the repetitive range of songs, and the format itself create a truly mind-numbing experience. When I visited the office of a new optometrist recently, I had the misfortunate of hearing a Christian station—AM, presumably—in which all of the songs glorify one’s religious faith. Since I’m not usually exposed to the radio, I had a hard time tuning out what I was hearing. It was really ridiculous when some caller received airtime to say that she was giving praise to her God while listening to this station at work.

Similarly, when I was at a local pharmacy to get a prescription filled, the radio, when not devoted to excessive amounts of commercials, which took up most of the airtime, played popular songs from previous decades, something like Diana Ross and The Supremes. Most of every song was devoted to the refrain.

I frankly don’t know how people can stand listening to corporate radio. My workplace, if I were the boss in a commercial operation and had control over its ambience, would not subject the employees to the radio. Each employee could bring a radio or CD player and listen to that device through a headset so long as no other employer would be subjected to someone else’s idea of music.

I gave up listening to the radio in the car several years ago. Now, more often than not, I drive in silence, not having a CD player in my twelve-year-old car. When I was commuting, I occasionally tried listening to the public radio stations, one in Lawrence and one in Kansas City, but neither station helped in keeping me awake, and I grew weary of hearing someone talk at me. Silence was more appealing and comforting.

There are no FM stations in Kansas City worth hearing. The radio shows in the mornings are devoted to talk and commercials. I last remember having a pleasant radio experience when I was living in Oklahoma. KRXO, a classic rock station, had triple-play Thursdays and featured Lisa Mirick during the day. It was worth taking a longer route through town on Thursdays just so that I could hear the radio station a little longer.

Anymore, the radio has become as devoted to commercials as the television, with its five minutes of commercials after ten minutes or less of programming. It seems as though we Americans have chosen to entertain ourselves by either listening to or watching commercials. I would be willing to adopt the British system of paying a tax for every radio and television that one owns so that we can receive commercial-free programming. Such a change would cause the corporations to lose so much revenue that they would probably find a way to ensure we are held immobile as our heads are filled with messages that voice an unfulfilled longing for more crap in our lives.